rabbis not champagne for new years

I had to go talk to her.

At the coffee shop, an unassuming 60 year old woman sat with glasses and a yamaka perched on her short dark brown hair. On her table was a small sign she crafted from yellow construction paper. It read "The Rabbi Is In; Advice 5 cents."

I waited in line for my expensive mixture of coffee and milk, and kept looking in her direction.

She waited in the corner for someone to talk to her.

I became more and more nervous. I couldn't think of anything half ok to ask her. I felt that I would regret it if I missed the opportunity to converse with a rabbi . This pressure did nothing to help my brainstorming. Turns out that I am a shy person, and talking to strangers is not my forte. 

I almost completely missed my chance for 5 cent advice. Turns out that rabbis take bathroom breaks too.

When she came back, I tried to give her a $1 dollar bill, which was not the thing to do. She refused my money and told me to tip the barristers. She meant baristas. We laughed. For my questions, I didn't want to be too heavy or flippant, so I came up with something really generic.

"What can I do to make 2018 a great year?" 

Her eyes lit up as she began to explain to me how in Hebrew numbers correlate with letters in the alphabet. In Judaism, the number 18 means LIFE.

Robbi, the rabbi, had been thinking about light a lot lately. She told me that everyone has divinity within them that shines out. At this time of the year, winter, there is a lack of light. The sun has been hanging out south of the equator, by the Tropic of Capricorn. Long nights. Short days.

It is up to us humans, to bring our light in to illuminate the world. Robbi was not talking about being light in the sense of silly. She told me to be positive, kind, and giving. In her words, be a little sparkler ringing in 2018.


I think in addition to being a force for good this year, maybe I should take the chance to talk to more strangers. But not everyone has cute little signs that urge you to.